15 March 2013

Caveat homo sapiens: gun culture

I have good reason to know how ingrained our gun culture is in our country. My mother grew up on a farm in Eastern New Mexico and could handle a .22 with her eyes closed. When she was a child during the Depression and living in what was still essentially a pioneer area, having a gun made sense. She wanted to have a gun in our house but my father refused to have one around. I want to tell you three brief stories about guns.

When we lived in the Patagonia area of Argentina, there was some concern (probably misplaced) for safety. My father had to go to meetings in Buenos Aires occasionally and it would be the three of us, my mother, my sister and I alone while he was 1000 miles away. She begged for a gun. "If an intruder comes in, I can shoot him in the leg," she would say. And she could. Dad did not question that. One day word came that a son of another missionary family in another Argentine city as far away as Buenos Aires was, but to the west of the country, was showing a friend his father's hunting rifle. He was thoroughly convinced that the gun was unloaded. It wasn't. It went off and killed the friend. After that my mother no longer asked to have a gun in our house. We never bought or needed one.

A decade or more later, when my wife was a young teenager, three men entered her house by force. The whole family was there and the men were armed robbers. One of them was injured. They of course ordered everyone to stay put in their chairs. It was clear they were desperate and would gladly shoot anyone who did not comply. A search of the house turned up my father-in-law's revolver. They simply added it to their arsenal. It was of no use whatsoever in defense and could have been used to kill its owner. My mother-in-law is a nurse and she tended to the injured man. That may have saved everyone's lives, while the gun was of no use. The siege ended when the owner of a car parked by the house appeared. The men raced out, ordered the man to turn over the keys, and made their escape. The police caught them soon after.

Last story. This week a member of our church choir reported that his grandson was in the hospital with a broken jaw. Two thugs forced open the back door of his house. The grandson had a gun. If he had run out the front door, nothing would have happened to him. Instead, when he heard the intrusion he reached for his gun and proceeded to load it. Before he could complete the loading, the men wrenched the gun from him and pistol-whipped him.

Clearly, guns are not a good protection but they are extremely dangerous. Most murders are committed by a member of the household using a gun people have in the house. Imagine how many people are angry at a family member and have a gun in the house that has never been used. The image of that unused gun works on the irate family member. What good is it having something if you never use it? You get the picture.

Clearly, the purpose of the second amendment to the US constitution was not to put us in this sort of danger. Unfortunately, the Supreme Court doesn't seem to care or to understand the constitution.

Responsible citizenship is the theme of my Angela series of novels for young (and not so young) readers: www.amazon.com/author/bedforddavid

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